Think Like a User
The End User of Your Website Doesn’t Care About Your Flash Intro
You may think that the Flash animation, your pride and joy, which users see when they click on your site is the coolest thing ever, and it may well be. However, what users see is something that will take a few minutes to load. Web users are not known for infinite patience. In fact, web users are not known for having any patience.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use your glitzy Flash animations, your labor of love. You can; just make sure that not only do you use one of those “skip intro” links, but it is placed where the first time visitor can actually see it. Everyone wants traffic for the site they’ve designed. The last thing you want is for visitors to be put off by long load time, an obscure interface and other inconveniences. The first and most important design principle to stick to is, keep it simple and make it easy for the user to get around your site.
They’re There for the Content
Even if your site is basically your web design resume, you would do well to bear in mind that the end user who visits your site is there for content. What does that mean to you, the designer? While a good looking site is nice to have, the most important thing is to have the content they want where they can find it easily. In other words, don’t bury the important stuff through a thousand glitzy rollover menus and don’t obscure important text by having a watermark photo in the background of the text that contrasts so little with the text that it makes it hard to read. Remember, the best sites are ‘sticky’ you want people coming back to them, you don’t just want to impress first-time visitors. You want them to come back.
Don’t Make Them Think
The end user is there for your content. Most users don’t focus and concentrate when they’re browsing the web (that’s why they call it browsing). Make it easy for them to find what they want, or they will go elsewhere. Navigating your site should be obvious and self explanatory. If the navigation and architecture aren’t totally intuitive, the number of times the user has to stop and think of what to do next to get from point A to point B should be minimal. Think in terms of a clear structure, and leaving little visual clues to guide your user along.
The bottom line is simple: when designing a web page, go out of your way to make life easy for the end user.